IPS News reports on the potential and advantages of sustainable energy in many Caribbean countries, reminding us that, “With the exception of oil rich Trinidad and Tobago, most, if not all, other Caribbean islands are extremely vulnerable when it comes to the high costs of imported fuels that are easily disrupted by natural disasters and other phenomena.” The article focuses on two cases–Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda.
Barbados, for example, has spent an estimated four million dollars on oil imports in 2011, equal to six percent of its gross domestic product (GDP). This amount has had a direct negative impact on direct production costs and the overall competitiveness of the Barbadian economy. The island’s prime minister, Freundel Stuart, however, pointed out that “although many small island developing states are energy deficient in conventional energy, limitless potential for renewable energy and energy efficiency resides in our countries”. Barbados has been actively promoting sustainable energy practices both on the supply side, mainly using renewable energy sources, and on the demand side, encouraging energy efficiency and energy conservation, in an effort to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, enhance energy security and stability, improve the economy’s competitiveness and achieve greater environmental sustainability. Barbados has more than 40,000 solar water heaters that save the country nearly 13 million U.S. dollars every year. “We are using the country’s success in this industry as a platform for renewable energy development,” Stuart said.
[. . .] Currently, the Caribbean region depends heavily on imported petroleum and petroleum products, to the tune of 9 billion U.S. dollars per year over the last few years.
Stuart’s Antigua counterpart, Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, told IPS that energy in all its various forms is essential to all forms of economic and social development. [. . .] “As a small island state, Antigua and Barbuda is also among the countries most vulnerable to global climate change resulting from the use of fossil fuels, and therefore must lead by example in promoting sustainable uses of energy resources, including through energy conservation and energy efficiency,” he said.
“Improving energy efficiency is a critical element of remaining competitive in today’s global economy. With the increasingly high international prices for fuel, we have to be innovative and forward thinking in our efforts to implement energy efficiency measures that can reduce our costs, minimise our environmental footprint and enhance our attractiveness as a ‘green’ destination.” Spencer said that some resorts in the highly competitive tourism industry, as well as other businesses, are already installing solar panels, waste water management systems, and other measures to save energy.
In its effort to promote a green economy, the Antiguan government recently announced an electricity interconnection policy for renewable energy. The initiative will allow accredited private producers of renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, to connect to the Antigua Public Utilities Authority. The Authority will then be able to reduce the amount of electricity it generates using imported petroleum.
As governments devise plans and programmes to address the global economic crisis, the transition to sustainable energy presents a unique opportunity for all to make their contribution to climate change by powering a green economy. [. . .]
For full article, see http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/caribbean-islands-find-economic-advantages-in-sustainable-energy